The word I sort-of picked for this year was open. And it’s a word that’s served me well, a quiet, pleasant reminder to keep growing, always.
And lately I’ve been thinking about words (okay, I admit, I am always thinking about words) as labels. We have good ones and bad ones, but that varies depending on who it is that’s applying them. We can call ourselves old or fat or lazy or any number of things, but when someone else does it, we are hurt, or offended, or outraged. We also test this theory by calling ourselves positive things, goddess and badass and guru and warrior, things that pump us up and make us feel good (or better) about who we are.
But they’re all labels. Definitions. Closed books that allow the rest of the world to see nothing but the cover, even if it is one we drew ourselves.
I want to see what’s on the inside. We’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but we do. I want to crack the spine and hold the pages open. I want to read every sentence.
I recently acquired a new label: Grandma. (One I love and am happy to claim, by the way). But when I ran into acquaintance and told her the news, she said something about how we were going to have to think of a better word to call it. And then I wondered why. Because I am a grandma. And a woman, and a wife and a mother and a runner and a gardener and a writer and a photographer and a poet and a housekeeper and a business owner and a laundress and an accountant and a cat box cleaner-outer. Labels.
I am an amalgam of labels.
We try to peel off the ones we don’t like, and pretty up the ones we do, adding scrolls and graphics and big bold letters. We wear those proudly, and the rest we try to hide, under clothing and posture and presentation.
But here’s what I say: Release them all. Refuse to let them stick, refuse to be defined.
Be a new word every minute. An ordinary word, an ordinary minute, a real, alive, breathing, changing, blossoming word.
Keep them guessing. Keep yourself guessing. Hold your arms wide open, and let the petals fall where they may.
Set your story free on the wind.
Watch where it goes.